Democratic House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday ripped President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE's false claims about the death toll in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, saying that her grandfather was one of the "uncounted" people to die as a result of the storm.
"My own grandfather died in the aftermath of the storm," Ocasio-Cortez, whose family has roots in Puerto Rico, tweeted. "Uncounted."
"Thousands of Puerto Ricans have similar stories," she added. "They have lost children, friends, & family members. Instead of finger-pointing, INVEST in the Marshall Plan for Puerto Rico + just transition to renewable energy."
My own grandfather died in the aftermath of the storm. Uncounted.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) September 13, 2018
Thousands of Puerto Ricans have similar stories. They have lost children, friends, & family members.
Instead of finger-pointing, INVEST in the Marshall Plan for Puerto Rico + just transition to renewable energy. https://t.co/ncukYyJsRu
Ocasio-Cortez's comments came just hours after Trump, without evidence, accused Democratic lawmakers of inflating Hurricane Maria's death toll to "make [him] look as bad as possible."
"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico," Trump tweeted early Thursday morning. "When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000.
"This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible."
The tweet was met with swift backlash on both sides, even among two of Trump's staunchest defenders who are running for office in Florida.
"I disagree with [the president] - an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. [Ricardo] Rosselló agreed. I've been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand. The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching," Florida Governor Rick Scott tweeted on Thursday afternoon.
Rep. Ron DeSantis's (R) office issued a statement saying he is "committed to standing with the Puerto Rican community, especially after such a tragic loss of life. He doesn’t believe any loss of life has been inflated."
Trump's comments came after an independent study conducted by George Washington University (GWU) revealed late last month that nearly 3,000 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria — a sharp increase from the initial death count of 64.
The finding led Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to officially update the death total in early September.
GWU issued a statement on Thursday in support of university researchers who led the study.
"We stand by the science underlying our study which found there were an estimated 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria," GWU's Milken Institute School of Public Health said in a statement.
"We are confident that the number — 2,975 — is the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date."